- ASD symptoms are not the same for everyone.
- However, autism signs in teenagers are not that different than in adults or children.
Here is a summary of the DSM-5 autism diagnostic criteria Communication difficulties, such as difficulty in having conversations or misunderstanding gestures
Being extremely focused on or restricted in your behavior. This could include repetitive motor functions such as hand-flapping or strict adherence to a daily schedule to the point of feeling upset if these patterns are disturbed. Even though they are not always easy to see, autism signs can be identified early in the child’s development.
Autism signs can cause difficulties in adapting to social and workplace norms. Autism signs don’t necessarily indicate a diagnosis of another intellectual disability or developmental disorder, although they can be combined.
These signs can also be diagnosed based on their “severity”.
These signs may be mild for some autistic individuals. Others may be affected by severe forms of these signs that interfere with their ability to adapt to neurotypical communication and social norms.
Many people believe it is crucial to have a diagnosis as soon as possible and get treatment.
An “severe” diagnosis can help someone get the resources they need to adapt to these norms. As they age, this is when self-sufficiency becomes more important.
These signs usually begin to show around the time of the first sign.
ASD signs can vary from childhood to adulthood. Autism cannot be diagnosed by definition unless signs are present in childhood so that a pattern can be established.
These signs of autism may not be evident in every child at the same time.
As with many teenagers, however, you might start to notice behavioral and emotional changes when you hit puberty. This is usually around 11-13 years of age.
Autism signs may become more apparent when teens start middle school and high school. This is where social relationships are often more important in a teenager’s life.
What can you do if your teenage son or daughter is autistic?
- Autism isn’t curable. Autism is a part and parcel of your teen’s personality.
- Your teen should learn to accept and love themselves.
- Seek out a psychologist, psychiatrist, or pediatrician who specializes in autism. They will be able guide you through the process of diagnosing autism, including:
- Monitoring your teen’s progress against a list of developmental milestones
- Conducting a thorough behavioral evaluation
- Consider what resources might be available to your teen in order to help them overcome difficulties in adapting to neurotypical norms.
How can you help an autistic teenager?
As autism signs and symptoms are different for every person, so will the outcomes for autistic individuals.
First, understand that your teen (or yourself!) is not impaired or deficient. Your teen (or you!) is not impaired or deficient.
They may require resources to help them adapt to neurotypical norms. This will depend on whether they have been diagnosed with ASD as “mild” (or “severe”). Here are some things you can do for your teenager to feel loved and accepted by others.
- Learn more about autism
- Every day brings new resources to help understand and live with autism.
- To learn more, talk to researchers, doctors, and speech pathologists who are experts in autism.
- Learn more about autism and its workings
This is something that most parents do, and it drives many teens crazy. If your teen is autistic, and you aren’t sure what to do next, talk to them!
Talk to your teenager. Ask your teen to share their thoughts with you or write them down.
It’s possible that your teen doesn’t have the writing or verbal skills to express their feelings or thoughts. If this is the case, it’s important to watch their behavior and note what could be triggering certain behaviors.
To help them minimize disruptive behaviors or hinder their ability to make the most of the resources that they have, it is important to understand what works and what doesn’t.
If your teenager’s behavior is disruptive or inhibiting their ability to achieve the goals they have expressed an interest in, you can try to reduce those triggers and help them find coping strategies.
Here are some suggestions:
Are bright lights a trigger? Dimming the lights in your home will help you avoid this.
Loud noises can disrupt their focus and overstimulate their senses. Get them noise-canceling headphones and earplugs.
Are your teens experiencing intense emotions? Allow them to feel their emotions and be kind. Do not yell, make them ashamed, or use violence or hurtful language.
Accept them as they are
No matter what message autistic parents get from their peers and the organizations they work with, there is nothing wrong. They don’t have to be fixed.
Instead, make your teen feel loved. Involve them in family events. Participate in their favorite activities.
Respect their boundaries by allowing them to have their own hobbies and friends, or by allowing them to be alone when they need it.